The Northwest Water Commission is nearly ready to take on its first customer — the city of Des Plaines — which means the agency will be purchasing about $1 million more water from Evanston each year.
Evanston’s biggest water customer, the NWC, which was established in 1957 and renamed in the early 1980s, provides its member communities — Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine and Wheeling — with water piped in from Lake Michigan through Evanston.
The agency’s board of commissioners is expected to approve a purchase agreement with the city of Des Plaines at its first meeting in September. Though Des Plaines will be the agency’s first customer, the city won’t be a voting member of the commission.
“Evanston is our sole supplier of water,” said NWC Executive Director John DuRocher. “Anything we sell in addition to what we sell now we’d purchase from Evanston.”
The additional $1 million worth of water is what is expected will be needed, he said.
DuRocher said Evanston is contractually obligated to provide the agency a maximum of 55 million gallons of water per day. Together, the four member communities are allowed to receive a maximum of 49 million gallons per day, leaving 6 million gallons of excess capacity, he said.
“We don’t get near that ever,” DuRocher said referring to the maximum number of gallons the municipalities are allowed.
The agency’s 6 million gallon per day excess capacity is what allows the NWC to provide water to Des Plaines, he said.
But the NWC, in conjunction with the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency, is also looking into piping in water from Glencoe.
DuRocher said the two agencies are engaged in an engineering feasibility study.
Even if the second pipeline is built, DuRocher said it would serve only as an emergency line for the NWC.
“Right now, the commission has one line to Evanston,” he said. “If that were ever to fail, we’d be without water.”
Essentially, he said, for the NWC, at least, the second pipe would just be a back up plan.
Evanston’s Utilities Director Dave Stoneback previously said he’s received similar assurances from the NWC. Even with a second line from Glencoe, Stoneback said the NWC would still purchase the vast majority of its water from Evanston due to the city’s low rate.
Chicago’s large water rate increases have driven suburbs like Des Plaines to look for cheaper alternatives.
Several communities, including Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge and Lincolnwood are now looking to Evanston as a cheaper source of water. But nothing has yet been confirmed.
If the city ultimately expands its service area, City Manager Wall Bobkiewicz has said that Evanston could make a 10 percent rate of return on the water it sells to other municipalities. The excess funds could then be used to pay for capital expenses, including costs associated with the city’s water plant.